It’s a tough season to be a center in the WNBA.Foul calls are down significantly, dropping by 1.4 fouls per game from 2018. But the “big” bigs — the best fives the league has to offer — have been hit especially hard. Through 32 games, the number of free-throw attempts by Liz Cambage of the Las Vegas Aces, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx is down 37 percent.The results have been evident. Griner, tired of taking so much uncalled contact, was involved in an altercation last month that resulted in a three-game suspension. Cambage described it, in an interview earlier this summer, this way: “I don’t really see myself playing into my 30s because I don’t want to go to war.” Cambage is still having an elite season, but her overall production is down from last year — her field-goal percentage has fallen from 58.9 to 49.3 percent while her true shooting percentage has dropped from 64.3 to 55.2 percent.But Fowles, through a combination of inter- and intraseason adaptations, has kept her production remarkably consistent. Her career field-goal percentage is 59.3 percent. This season, her field-goal percentage is … 59.1 percent.Another year, same Syl. At age 33, Fowles is this generation’s greatest center, trailing only Lauren Jackson among centers in career Win Shares, but she doesn’t get enough appreciation, to hear her coach and teammates tell it.“Syl reminds me of myself, like no one recognizes her greatness,” said Fowles’s current Lynx and former LSU teammate Seimone Augustus. “But she continues to just get better, year after year. I mean, at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done and she retires, I think people are going to look back and go, ‘Wow.’”By the catch-all stat Win Shares, Fowles has quietly amassed more value than anyone else in the WNBA over the past three seasons. Elena Delle Donne, Griner and Cambage may get more headlines, but only Fowles has more than 20 win shares since the start of the 2017 season. No one else has cracked 19.But while the statistics — at least the topline numbers — would indicate that Fowles is simply the same great center she’s been since her rookie season in Chicago back in 2008, a closer look at how she’s been scoring her points in 2019 reveals the change she made to enhance her game.Fowles is 19-for-34 on shots 15 to 19 feet away from the basket, a 55.9 percent clip that ranks her among this season’s elite midrange shooters. For reference, Fowles was 2-for-6 from that distance in 2018.That didn’t happen by accident. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve told Fowles in their exit meeting at the end of 2018 that she wanted her to diversify her game, and Fowles worked with Lynx assistant Walt Hopkins all offseason. The daily routine was punishing: Fowles would shoot at the rim, in the paint, from the free-throw and three-point lines, and couldn’t advance to the next spot until she made five in a row, all swishes.Her success this season from all over the court has actually helped Fowles focus on her original strength — that endless array of post moves — and not settle for the jumpers she’s now sinking routinely.“I have to make sure it doesn’t take away what I do best,” Fowles said. “I have to make sure I don’t get too relaxed and shoot jumpers. When I’m open, I shoot. But when I’m not, it’s making sure I do what I used to do, and that’s going to the rim.”But even Fowles acknowledged a frustration with how much harder it has been to earn foul-line trips through contact. Fowles has gotten more than four free-throw attempts in a game just six times all season. In 2018, she shot more than four free throw attempts in 17 of 34 games.I asked Sue Blauch, the WNBA’s head of referee performance and development, about the reduction in both free-throw attempts originating out of the paint and player frustration with it. She acknowledged the decrease in offensive efficiency in the league this season and said “everyone should dig deep and explore” what might be the cause. “We certainly looked at our play-calling data and have addressed any contribution that officiating may have had,” she said.Refs across the WNBA did seem to take note of recent league office guidance. Before July’s All-Star break, the average number of fouls per game was 33.2. Since then, fouls are up to 37.3 per game — an increase of 12.3 percent. That shift toward more fouls in the paint required another adjustment for Fowles, who was sent to the bench early in several games with foul trouble herself.“Now everything’s a foul fest, the last couple of games it’s a foul fest, we have to adjust to that,” Reeve said after a Minnesota win in New York on Aug. 13. “All of a sudden there’s an about-face about how it’s being officiated. And so I told Syl, I said, ‘No complaints now. You know, you gotta get yourself to the foul line.’ Some of it is being patient and not racing through the move, give a defender a chance to foul you, type of thing. So I think she’s got to be a little more poised in the post.”It isn’t easy. Fowles said she huddled with Cambage and Griner during All-Star weekend in Las Vegas about how to handle all the physical abuse. She laughed when asked if she meditates.“Oh, yes,” Fowles said. “I meditate. I talk to therapists. It gets frustrating.” But she doesn’t want to talk about it with her teammates and coaches, to “put out that negative energy.” Instead, she just continues to be Sylvia Fowles.In the three games after that Aug. 13 win, she shot 63.6 percent. She took only one shot from the 15-to-19-foot range. And in her past four games, she’s shot 59.5 percent, going 4-of-7 when 15 to 19 feet from the basket.The rules change, the teams change, the players change. But Sylvia Fowles keeps on doing what she does.
New Delhi: The Congress on Monday condemned the detention of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah under the Public Safety Act, saying injustice has been done and it’s the country’s “misfortune” that leaders who fought for its unity are behind bars.The party said it stands in solidarity with Abdullah and if there is “no militancy today” in the state, it was because of the Congress, the National Conference and the PDP, and not the BJP. The Congress’ reaction came after officials sources on Monday said Abdullah has now been detained under the stringent PSA, which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial. The 81-year-old National Conference leader has been under preventive detention since August 5 when the Centre announced abrogation of special status given to the state under Article 370 and its bifurcation into Union territories Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The stringent law was slapped on him early Monday. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Congress Rajya Sabha MP and Leader of the Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “I strongly condemn it. It is most unfortunate that a (former) chief minister of one of the oldest political parties in Kashmir (has been detained). “Each chief minister and each political party, be it the Congress, the National Conference or the Peoples Democratic Party, in Jammu and Kashmir have tried their level best to fight militancy. If there is no militancy today, it is because of these political parties and not the BJP,” he told reporters. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KIf the leaders who fought against militancy and for the unity and integrity of the country are put behind bars under the PSA, it is a “misfortune” of the country, Azad said. At an AICC briefing, party leader Rajiv Shukla said termed Abdullah a nationalist and said injustice has been meted out towards him. “I feel that injustice has been meted out to Farooq Abdullah. Farooq has always been a nationalist and you can see all his past speeches….”
SURREY, B.C. – Drug users will start injecting their own heroin or other illicit substances at a new supervised injection site opening this week in Surrey, B.C., in efforts to curb a crisis in overdose deaths.SafePoint will be British Columbia’s first site outside of Vancouver that allows people to shoot up drugs under medical supervision while they are linked up with other health and social services.A similar service will be incorporated later this month into an existing clinic in Surrey, which has had the second-highest number of overdose fatalities in the province after Vancouver.The BC Coroners Service has reported that of the 931 overdose deaths in the province last year, 108 occurred in Surrey. There were 51 overdose fatalities in the first four months of this year in the city.SafePoint is set to open on Thursday and comes 14 years after the groundbreaking start of Insite in Vancouver in the midst of an HIV epidemic.Just like at Insite, intravenous drug users will be given clean needles at individual booths where they can inject drugs while being monitored by staff ready to administer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone if necessary.Anyone who uses illicit substances in a supervised injection site approved by Health Canada is exempt from the country’s drug laws.Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer, called the department’s approval of SafePoint bittersweet, saying the health authority submitted an application requesting that users also be allowed to snort drugs or take them orally.“We know that people are dying not only from injecting drugs but orally consuming and inter-nasally consuming as well, and we wanted to provide them with supervised consumption services as well,” Lee said Tuesday outside the new facility.She said that’s essential because of a public health emergency declared by the province in April 2016 over an unprecedented number of overdose deaths that continues to rise.Some drug users living in about 70 tents across the street from SafePoint said they would not inject at the clinic because there is a community RCMP policing station next door.Lee said several surveys of community organizations and substance users suggested people would inject at the facility despite the presence of police nearby.“We will monitor what the uptake looks like. If we see that if the uptake is not what we expected we will look with our partners, community organizations as well as RCMP and local municipal stakeholders to improve access,” she said.Fraser Health said in a statement that there are more than 500 visits each week to a nearby overdose prevention site, though some people in the tent city said they would continue going there instead of SafePoint.One drug user, who did not wish to be named, said there’s a more urgent need for housing in Surrey, which, unlike Vancouver, does not have single-room occupancy hotels for people who live on the street or go to shelters.Lee acknowledged the lack of housing as a problem.“There are new builds underway,” she said, adding the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which has been contracted to operate SafePoint, also manages shelters in the city.Former drug user Karen Scott told a news conference at SafePoint that she was addicted to crystal methamphetamine and unwittingly took some laced with fentanyl before entering a treatment program involving the drug suboxone.Scott urged drug users to take advantage of SafePoint, noting the same treatment, along with methadone, will be offered adjacent to the new clinic.Besides Insite, a smaller supervised injection site run by the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation also exists in downtown Vancouver.Health Canada said Tuesday that it has approved 12 applications for supervised injection sites elsewhere: four in Montreal, including one mobile unit, and three in Toronto, although they have not yet opened.The department said 12 applications are under consideration, including three from other cities in B.C., four from Edmonton, one from Calgary and three from Ottawa.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
Toronto police say they have learned of two more incidents at a private all-boys’ school at the centre of an investigation into allegations of assault and sexual assault.Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray says one of the incidents is being investigated as an assault with a weapon, while the second is considered a threat.The latest incidents bring to six the number of cases being investigated by police at St. Michael’s College School, a Roman Catholic school that teaches grades 7 to 12.Police and the school have said two of those incidents involved an alleged sexual assault.Police laid charges against six students on Monday in connection with one of the alleged sexual assaults that was captured on video.Five of the teens turned themselves in to police Monday morning, while another one was arrested while on his way to school.More to come.The Canadian Press